Smriti Dhital

Scholarship Status: Awarded 1st Place
Scholarship Awarded: Geotechnical Scholarship
University: California State University
Date of Graduation: Spring 2017


When I was carrying out my undergraduate studies, I designed a micro-hydropower scheme as a part of senior-class design project. The study became challenging due to the poor characterization of geotechnical parameters, and I had to spend much time in the laboratory. This helped me understand the importance of geotechnical engineering in designing structures. Moreover, this research was appreciated by my university, as the work was awarded with the best thesis of the year and I also received a semester-long scholarship. This encouraged me to pursue my higher studies, though I did not have any financial support. Nevertheless, I applied for the master’s degree program at California State University, Fullerton and got admission, but with out of state tuition waiver. At Fullerton, I have been working as a research assistant since Fall 2015. My research topics include the geotechnical properties of light-weight cellular concrete, cyclic behavior of natural soil samples, and application of the cellular concrete on highway slopes as well as deep foundations. My recent work also includes the study of coseismic landslips triggered off by the Mw 7.8 Gorkha Earthquake of 25 April 2015 in central Nepal. The quake has also destroyed many buildings in the Kathmandu valley, where the buildings were founded on soft soil of lake deposits. As a teaching associate, I am currently delivering laboratory courses on soil mechanics to undergraduate students. For me, it is a challenge as well as an opportunity to teach the laboratory courses. Each individual student requires some special attention for transferring knowledge and skills of laboratory testing. While working with an individual or a group of students and during my own research, I have learned a great deal by running various laboratory tests and carrying out precise measurements. In my one year period in California State University, Fullerton I have been heavily involved in different activities organized by ASCE , California Geo-technical club (CALGEO and GIGSO). Presently, I am working as a treasurer for GIGSO. I have been attending seminars and conferences organized by various chapter of ASCE. I have worked as a volunteer for ASCE- LA GI meeting for Spring 2015. I have been part of the Geotechnical and Structural Engineering Congress in Phoenix , Arizona. The experience in teaching and research has stimulated me to work in the academia in the future too. Hence, I would like to take my graduate education to a doctoral level, specializing in geotechnical engineering with a focus on soil dynamics. I hope to utilize the knowledge I received at Fullerton and problem-solving skills that I have developed here to carry out in-depth research in geotechnical engineering and apply the findings to the construction of highways, tunnels, and buildings with deep foundations. In my view, there is great scope in geotechnical engineering, where the number of female researchers is very low. As a female student and researcher, I would also like to encourage other young professionals as well to get involved in the field of geotechnical engineering. My expected graduation date is May 2017 and this Scholarship Program will help me substantially to pay the tuition fees and living expenses. The scholarship will be instrumental not only in completing my master’s degree in time at California State University, Fullerton, but also in pursuing a Ph D level study in geotechnical engineering in the future.


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